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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE REFORMATION AND EDUCATION      185

one of the schools of the Brethren in Alsace, and at the universities
of Basel, Erfurt, and Heidelberg, in the last of which he became
professor of poetry and subsequently rector. He was a strenuous
advocate of educational reform, and wrote several books in
furtherance of it. The chief of these were Isodoneus Germanicus,
a manual for teachers, in which he dwelt on the necessity for
attending to both learning and piety, and advised that only as
much grammar should be taught as was necessary for reading and
writing Latin with ease ; Adolescentia, partly a general treatise
on education, partly a textbook of extracts in prose and poetry
for school purposes; and Germania, an appeal to the town
council of Strassburg to promote learning by the institution
of a special gymnasium. The suggestion he made in the last
of these (which was written in 1501) was new. The school he
wanted established was not one that would give a complete
course of classical training and turn out finished scholars. Latin
literature was certainly to be studied, but the purpose in view
was the practical one of training boys who had already attended
the ordinary Latin schools for office in Church and State, and the
authors to be read were those who in ancient and modern times
had written on the conduct of life and on such matters as warfare,
architecture, and agriculture. All this, he promised the council,
could be got at no great expense of time and money and would
make the city an object of envy throughout Germany.

Whether, as Erasmus believed, this northern humanistic move-
ment, if left to run its own course, would ultimately have succeeded
in converting the universities and schools to its own ideals, it is
impossible to say. Its progress in this respect was certainly
slow. In the universities it depended largely on the work of a
few brilliant men, who, in the absence of endowed chairs, had
generally only a temporary influence; and even in the schools
where it met with a greater success it was confined to those
institutions in which some humanist teacher proved himself
strong enough to overrule the old tradition. This was how
matters stood when the upheaval caused by the Reformation
broke up the existing ecclesiastical and political system, and threw
all learning into confusion. Not that the Reformation as such
was anti-humanistic. On the contrary, it was the humanistic
awakening that made the Reformation possible. The men who
wished to revive literature and education were all inclined to